Drinks brands are well known for putting on over the top launch parties…

…complete with elaborate ice sculptures and glamorous bar tenders, they’re not often known for their subtlety.

However, this week, globally renowned beer makers Heineken made their first foray into the world of craft beer by launching two new products that they are hoping will win over ‘curious beer-drinkers’. The new brand is called Maltsmiths Brewing and both drinks are firmly aimed at wresting away the usual pints of lager away from regular beer drinkers. According to Sam Fielding, the man in charge of the new team at Heineken, 75% of the beer drinking British public are yet to branch out to the craft beers that have proven so popular in the metropolitan regions of the country.

So what makes these beers any different from the hundreds of others that are currently on the market?

Both beverages will come brightly packaged as either a 330ml bottle or can, no surprises there; you’ll also be able to find them on tap at your local (retail price is a rather steep £4.70 though). The real innovation comes from the brewers, or ‘Maltsmiths’, as they’re known. Sarah Bartels, a Heriot-Watt graduate and German-born brewer has been working with Alex Brandon-Davies, a fellow expert in the field, to develop brew beers that would appeal to fans of craft ales, in addition to those who have yet to experiment.

With Heineken’s joint takeover deal of 1900 Punch pubs throughout the UK, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the company is making a bid for a Brewdog style domination of the drinking scene. However, the new beer-maker has stated that their first step into the world of craft beers is intended to win more fans over to the drink in general, rather than their own specific brand.

“This is about getting curious beer drinkers into the category and expanding their repertoire with more flavoursome beers – which will be a springboard for them to discover beers from the 1,500 breweries in the UK. This is about supporting our customers and growing the category for the entire industry.”

Yorkshire-born Alex has been brewing with Sarah using the cutting-edge facilities at the award-winning Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh.  Together they’ve created both the Bavarian-style Pilsner and American style IPA – the cans and bottle labels have been plastered with the copious tasting notes that the pair made whilst developing the beers, a process that took a great deal of trial and error. The Pilsner has been favoured with crisp, clean pine and citrus notes, featuring an earthy hoppy character – whereas the IPA has a caramel base with notes of tropical fruits and citrus.

“Using citrus-flavoured hops – namely Centennial, Chinook and Columbus hops – we’re hoping that drinkers will love the fuller flavours and it will be their first step into experimenting with beers from the hundreds of other breweries in the UK.”

Those eager to try out the new ales got their opportunity at the Craft Beer Rising Festival in London this February. Maltsmiths was proudly on offer at the event, along with dozens of popular brands, jostling for attention.